You will find out about all the exciting stuff going on with the RSPB in the east of the UK. We cover our sites in the following counties: Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, and some of our great Lincolnshire ones. So if you are if you have never heard of the Strumpshaws and Snettishams or Stour Estuary or Sutton Fens here is you chance.
It may have been an early start this morning, but watching the birds in my garden and sipping tea with Radio Norfolk’s Wally Webb isn’t exactly hard work and we had a lot of fun telling the Radio Norfolk listeners how they can help their feathered friends on Feed The Birds Day and into the winter months.
Wally and his BBC Radio Norfolk car parked up outside the house just before 8am and the birds were, well, fairly sparse to be honest. With a solitary goldfinch resting on our feeder and a few starlings, gulls and wood pigeons flying over head it was hardly a bird bonanza! However, with a fantastic summer behind us where finches, thrushes, tits butterflies and insects filled the garden, there was still plenty to talk about.
As our evenings get darker and the air gets crisper, natural food will become more and more scarce for our garden birds. This weekend is Feed the Birds Day and it couldn’t be a more important time of year to be filling up your bird feeders and keeping the water topped up in your bird baths. As our grounds get covered with frost and the berries on the trees slowly disappear, sunflower seeds, nijer seeds, fat balls and grated cheese (yes, birds love grated cheese!) will all be gobbled up and very gratefully received.
If you have ten minutes this weekend, top up your bird feeders, grab a cuppa and a biscuit and sit back and delight in watching your garden birds. It may be a busy weekend with Halloween, shopping, kids running around and other weekend chores, but making time to help out the birds in your garden will offer a little slice of tranquil wildlife watching amidst the possible chaos!
Oiled bird, credit: D.Rodrigues / UNEP / Still Pictures
I’ve got a framed photo in my bedroom and one of my friends has got the exact same one on the shelf in his kitchen. The photo is of a Montagu’s harrier, the centre of a wildlife watching project that I worked on, gliding on grey-blue wings and staring imperiously down from it’s lofty flight towards the camera. The picture is a good few years old now and on catching up with my friend the other week, we both pondered what made us keep this particular photo on show. We decided that it’s not just the birds steely natural grace, the refinement of poise, or the harrier’s obvious vigour and strength, but also what it reminds us of. What we remember whenever we catch a glance of the image on the way to switch the radio off or just as we lock the door on the way out to work.
For me photographs have the ability to summon up a mood from the pit of my stomach or remember a feeling that I had long forgotten. When I first saw Mark Edwards’s Hard Rain presentation I was sitting at work. A group of us had been told about it in passing. It was a series of images set to a Bob Dylan soundtrack that showed one man’s personal account of climate change. Being part of an environmental conservation organisation and, if we’re honest, because we all knew one or two Bob Dylan tracks off by heart, this was something we all wanted to know more about.
My Montagu’s harrier photo means a lot, but no set of images has ever struck me more than the Hard Rain presentation. Neither, in a mere five minutes, has anything proven more the enormity of consequence that we as human beings face if we continue our headlong collision with nature. The idea could seem trite I suppose. There’s nothing more off putting than becoming a cinematic voyeur of climate change. We’ve also all heard the usual apocalyptic stories. Ice caps melting, rainforests destroyed. So why does the Hard Rain presentation feel so right? I think its Edwards’s ability to translate what could seem like a mind blowing theory into words that are tangible for people like me, my work colleagues, you, our neighbours. Beneath an image of an oiled bird, its red eyes glaring from beneath a coating of filth Edward’s writes. ‘It is easy to become paralyzed by the scale of our environmental problems, but as individuals we can act immediately to reduce our environmental footprint. Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.’
Do what you can – come and see the Hard Rain presentation and hear Mark Edward’s speak on Thursday 28 October from 7 pm at the Norwich Puppet Theatre. Tickets cost £5 and can be bought at www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk
Uncertain future for the grey partridge
It has certainly been a busy week all round. I don’t really want to mention the C word, through fear of it’s very mention sending you all dashing for the return button. But it would be an oversight to not touch on the government’s spending review and the aftermath of our budget cuts. And with it, the very deep hole that now sits in the nation’s spending.
I know a lot of people feel rather bemused by the whole thing. The build up was immense and we were all left second guessing what may or may not be left of the public sector after Wednesday’s announcements.
I imagine there will still be a huge amount of uncertainty in the coming weeks and this is true for our conservation bodies and key environmental funding. A huge sigh of relief was heard when we discovered that HLS (the government’s Higher Level Scheme for farmers and land-owners) would be saved from the axe. Without this funding we would struggle to help declining species in our wider countryside. It’s a simple message, but the harsh reality is that if this funding ceased to be, we would almost certainly have to question the future of our turtle doves, our skylarks and our grey partridges and that’s just for starters.
But, we musn’t become complacent about it now. There is still a long way to go to make sure that our new government put our environment onto the priority list for their future plans.
Having failed miserably to meet the 2010 targets to halt the loss of biodiversity, we need to look to the future and we need to get serious. With an even sparser budget, Caroline Spelman will have a job to do to make sure that our environmental concerns are not ignored. Organisations, businesses, NGO’s and the public must work together creatively to make sure that biodiversity doesn’t suffer for future generations at the hands of past ignorance.